There was a massy table in the middle of the cavern, used for the pirates’ repasts. Orlando lifted it and hurled it at the robbers as they stood clustered in a group toward the entrance. Half the gang were laid prostrate, with broken heads and limbs; the rest got away as nimbly as they could.
Leaving the den and its inmates to their fate, Orlando, taking Isabella under his protection, pursued his way for some days, without meeting with any adventure.
One day they saw a band of men advancing, who seemed to be guarding a prisoner, bound hand and foot, as if being carried to execution. The prisoner was a youthful cavalier, of a noble and ingenuous appearance. The band bore the ensigns of Count Anselm, head of the treacherous house of Maganza. Orlando desired Isabella to wait, while he rode forward to inquire the meaning of this array. Approaching, he demanded of the leader who his prisoner was, and of what crime he had been guilty. The man replied that the prisoner was a murderer, by whose hand Pinabel, the son of Count Anselm, had been treacherously slain. At these words the prisoner exclaimed, “I am no murderer, nor have I been in any way the cause of the young man’s death.” Orlando, knowing the cruel and ferocious character of the chiefs of the house of Maganza, needed no more to satisfy him that the youth was the victim of injustice. He commanded the leader of the troop to release his victim, and, receiving an insolent reply, dashed him to the earth with a stroke of his lance; then by a few vigorous blows dispersed the band, leaving deadly marks on those who were slowest to quit the field.
Orlando then hastened to unbind the prisoner, and to assist him to reclothe himself in his armor, which the false Magencian had dared to assume. He then led him to Isabella, who now approached the scene of action. How can we picture the joy, the astonishment, with which Isabella recognized in him Zerbino, her husband, and the prince discovered her whom he had believed overwhelmed in the waves! They embraced one another, and wept for joy. Orlando, sharing in their happiness, congratulated himself in having been the instrument of it. The princess recounted to Zerbino what the illustrious paladin had done for her, and the prince threw himself at Orlando’s feet, and thanked him as having twice preserved his life.
While these exchanges of congratulation and thankfulness were going on, a sound in the underwood attracted their attention, and caused the two knights to brace their helmets and stand on their guard. What the cause of the interruption was we shall record in another chapter.
France was at this time the theatre of dreadful events. The Saracens and the Christians, in numerous encounters, slew one another. On one occasion Rinaldo led an attack on the infidel columns, broke and scattered them, till he found himself opposite to a knight whose armor (whether by accident or by choice, it matters not) bore the blazon of Orlando. It was Dardinel, the young and brave prince of Zumara, and Rinaldo remarked him by the slaughter he spread all around. “Ah,” said he to himself, “let us pluck up this dangerous plant before it has grown to its full height.”